A Tree Grows in Michigan


Raze the roof for green.

I’ll let you in on one of my secret eco-dreams: to tear down dilapidated buildings and allow nature to recover the land. As it turns out, this just might be a new municipal strategy in combating urban blight.

The first site of this radical experiment? Flint, Michigan: a sprawling and impoverished, underpopulated city. At 34 square miles, Flint requires a lot of maintenance and upkeep (think: garbage trucks, road repair, electricity lines).

So, how to maintain a city’s integrity without the taxpayer base to support it? Just tear down the buildings and parts of town that are already on the decline. It’s “pruning the deadwood,” to put it in gardening terms. The idea is to raze decrepit buildings and replant them with trees or allow natural meadows to grow on the land.

According to Dan Kildee, the brains behind this project, nobody is being forced to move and people are being offered better homes in more maintained parts of town. The ones who choose to stay will simply have more natural areas surrounding their homes.

The U.S. government and various charities have approached Mr. Kildee and asked him for advice on how to proceed with this idea in other declining cities around the United States. Seems like “less is more” and “back to nature” may come together on a grand and tangible scale.

Image: Saquan Stimpson